Lucky Beard’s Irish team helps roll out medical platform in South Africa

28 Mar 2023

From left: Lucky Beard CEO Adam Oberem, chief creative officer James Nelson and managing director Elaine Devereux. Image: Conor Mc Cabe Photography

The company said the Unu Health platform lets users manage their healthcare data and gives access to nurses and doctors through WhatsApp or video calls.

The Irish team at South African company Lucky Beard has helped deliver a new healthcare platform for its client, Standard Bank, which aims to bring affordable healthcare to millions of people in Africa.

The app, called Unu Health, is designed to let users manage their healthcare data on a single platform, with easy access to health records and medical history.

Lucky Beard said the app lets users connect with nurses or doctors through WhatsApp or video call, with an available network of 3,400 private GPs, 8,000 specialists and 3,500 pharmacies across South Africa. The company said its Dublin team worked with South African colleagues to deliver the healthcare platform.

The app aims to address problems focusing on South Africa’s healthcare system, which Lucky Beard claims is a two-tiered space. Some university reports suggest that most of the population can’t afford the high costs of private healthcare, while the public sector is underfunded.

Lucky Beard said the Unu Health platform will initially target 5.5m formally employed people in the country that are unable to afford medical aid. The app includes a corporate offering, to help employers provide private primary healthcare access for their employees.

Lucky Beard was founded in 2015 and established its European headquarters in Ireland after two of its founders, Adam Oberem and James Nelson, relocated to Ireland under the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme. Nelson is the company’s chief creative officer, while Elaine Devereux is Lucky Beard’s managing director.

In 2021, the digital advisory and design company invested more than €1m into its European headquarters in Dublin, expanding its team with 10 new staff members. Last month, the company announced plans to expand its Irish team further.

Lucky Beard was a lead advisor around the strategy, brand, product design and technology of the new healthcare app. Unu Health is seed funded by Standard Bank.

“Over the past 18 months, our teams have worked tirelessly to develop a solution that provides affordable, accessible and effective primary care to individuals who previously had limited options,” Devereux said.

“Unu Health uses innovative technology to simplify access to healthcare and drastically improve the patient experience while driving down the cost, much like Revolut did for banking, with the ambition to bring healthcare that makes you smile.”

Tania Joffe, the CEO of Unu Health, said the platform’s goal is to create a “hyperconnected patient-centred ecosystem” that links healthcare users, healthtech and traditional “in-person health resources”.

“The platform also integrates HR and medical data to give employers valuable insights into the wellbeing of their people to help improve employee health, with a direct impact on the bottom line via reduced absenteeism, greater productivity, and enhanced staff retention and attraction,” Joffe said.

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Update 29 March at 09:28am: This article originally stated Lucky Beard owned Unu Health and was amended to show the company is a lead advisor for the product.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic